Scottish finance directors positive about economy despite political factors

Sandy Manson
Sandy Manson

Scottish finance directors and CFOs are positive about the economic outlook, despite “domestic political factors” representing a barrier to growth, according to a new survey.

Around 120 FDs and CFOs were surveyed in June and July for The CA, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) magazine, in partnership with Johnston Carmichael.

The survey also indicates what issues are rising high up on their agenda, with cybercrime rising to become one of the FDs’ top three concerns.

Collectively, the FDs are significantly more upbeat about prospects for the economy than they were last year, just after the surprise result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

In 2016, 45 per cent expected the UK economy to go into recession in the next 12 months; only 16 per cent believe that in 2017. And 27 per cent expect to see “moderate growth” (GDP 1 per cent-2.5 per cent) compared with last year’s 13 per cent.

The numbers anticipating redundancies in their organisation are also significantly down on last year (17 per cent compared with 33 per cent in 2016).

Sandy Manson, chief executive of Johnston Carmichael, commented: “While events can be hard to predict and prevent, what’s important is how we respond.

“In this period of disruption and heightened political influence, there is a growing challenge for businesses to stay relevant and to remain trusted by those who invest in their products and services.”

What are the key barriers to growth? (Last year’s rankings shown in brackets.)

  1. Political factors - domestic (2)
  2. Brexit-related issues (1)
  3. Skills shortages (7)
  4. Red tape and regulation (9)
  5. Weak consumer confidence (3)
  6. Political factors – overseas (8)
  7. Weak confidence in the business sector (4)
  8. Depressed oil price (5)
  9. Fears interest rates will rise (11)
  10. Measures to reduce the state’s deficit go too far, too fast (13)
  11. On the FD’s agenda: the top 10 issues (Last year’s rankings shown in brackets.)

    1. Growing revenues (2)
    2. Controlling costs (1)
    3. Cyber-security (5)
    4. Recruitment and retention (3)
    5. Fraud prevention (8)
    6. Other IT issues (7)
    7. Bringing new products and services to the market (4)
    8. Corporate governance (9)
    9. Expanding into new markets (10)
    10. E-commerce and the Internet (11)
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